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Central European Distribution Corp. (CEDC - 4.29) was on the bearish options radar yesterday, as more than 5,900 puts crossed the tape, reflecting eight times the equity's average daily volume. Roughly 3,900 of these puts were exchanged at the near-the-money March 5 strike -- almost all of them at the ask price, suggesting they were bought. Open interest at this strike jumped by 3,367 contracts overnight, indicating that most of the volume consisted of newly opened positions. This option is now home to peak put open interest of 8,892 contracts.
This preference for puts over calls is more of the same for CEDC. In fact, data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows a put/call volume ratio of 5.24, confirming that puts bought to open have outnumbered calls by more than five to one during the past couple of weeks. This ratio ranks in the 94th percentile of its annual range, which means that traders have been snapping up bearish bets over bullish at a near annual-high pace.
Most of the analysts following the alcoholic beverage giant seem to share this pessimistic attitude toward CEDC. According to Zacks, only one "buy" or better endorsement has been doled out, compared to four "hold" or worse recommendations.
Technically speaking, CEDC is down more than 2% year-to-date, having erased its 23% gain after reporting weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings before this morning's opening bell. As such, the stock is now trading beneath its 10-week and 20-week moving averages, which could resume their previous role as resistance.
In the first hour of the session, CEDC is down about 21% to hover at $4.29.